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Oregon Crowns 1st Varsity Champ

  • 26 May 2016

Photo: Daniel R. Johnson

The Valley Panthers capped a perfect spring season with a 37-10 victory over Reynolds for Oregon’s first varsity state championship. 2016 marked the first year that Rugby Oregon divided its single-school and club teams into separate divisions.

The finalists hadn’t seen each other since the opening week of league, when the Panthers triumphed 55-22. As the season progressed, it became clear that Reynolds was the next-best team and it advanced to the title bout with a 59-12 semifinal win over Linn Benton. Valley Panthers advanced with a 75-0 victory over Canby.

In the final, the Panthers raced out to a 20-point lead as flyhalf Legacy Adams capitalized on favorable territory for the game’s first points. Loosehead prop Samantha Arciga dotted down shortly afterward. Two quick tries from inside center Adriana Mendoza and outside center Jazmin Hager gave the Panthers what seemed like a comfortable cushion.

“A little complacency set in and a couple [miscommunicated] passes turned the ball over to Reynolds, and their outside center, CeCe [Cecilia Johnson], was able to expose a breakdown in the Panthers’ defense,” Valley Panthers coach Jeremey Moore wrote. Johnson scored two tries before the break to pull the scoreline to 20-10.

During halftime, Moore reminded his players that the game was theirs to lose, and it was time to step up. Jordan Johnson put motivation into action, gathered the restart and barreled to Reynold’s 22 meter. The Panthers remained on attack for most of the second half, and the defense did well to turn over Reynold’s ball for the majority of possession. Three more tries came from Mendoza, Brittney Brown and Mia Strickland, and the one conversion made it 37-10 at the buzzer.

“It’s a[n] Honor to be coaching a group of girls as well disciplined and dedicated as these,” Moore wrote in the match summary. “It’s hard to give all the girls who deserve credit just due. Everyone wants to know who scored the points [but] to me that’s a[n] oversight. [W]ith Rugby it’s the work leading up to the try that matters, the girls who tirelessly enter every breakdown without hesitation or fear and get up to do it again. With almost every score there were 2 passes before it from someone who will never get recognition. It’s a great sport that takes 15 players to win.”

While the Panthers celebrate their first-ever state title, they are simultaneously disappointed that the Championship Cup has been cancelled. Club champion Grant, which defeated the Beaverton Lady Barbarians 41-30 on Saturday, could not field the numbers for a June 3 match.

“I watched them beat Beaverton and it would have been a tough game for sure, but I really think we could have pulled it off,” Moore lamented.

Those curiosities will hopefully be explored next year, so long as the league schedules the cross-divisional match at the onset of the season.

#ValleyPanthers #RugbyOregon #statechampionship

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